Monday, March 15

You want frazzled? I'll give you frazzled.

I really do enjoy magazines. Really. But at certain times in life—for instance, when a close family member has cancer, or you're nauseated—the protracted cleverness is downright annoying.

Made-up words like "glowification" regarding facial treatments make me want to punch somebody. Interviews with washed-up Hollywood types, who are described as sitting next to their pool in a flowing silk mumu, I couldn't care less about. Alternatively, interviews with the latest Hollywood "it girl," whose lunch is inevitably described as a Big Salad and who claims she never diets, inspire me to rip the page to shreds.

As an editor, I roll my eyes when some 22-year-old mixed media artist in Manhattan is said to have a "well-edited wardrobe" of vintage blouses and $600 heels. I'm sure museum professionals are just as insulted when a frou frou boutique is deemed "well-curated."

Oh! Oh! And the parenting magazines! Yes, these can be fun and informative. But the sitcom-like frazzled tone of them seems so irrelevant when your kid stuffs a quarter inch of a candy cane up his right nostril—in March—and you have to coach him in the process of removing his finger from the nostril and blowing hard. The sight of an aging mint shard flying from your toddler's nose, that's the symbol of relief. Relief that 1) He isn't hurt, 2) You don't have to go to the emergency room, 3) You don't have to explain to a doctor why your kid had access to a candy cane long past the kosher window of time, which expired three months ago, and 4) Medical bills, relegated to the Stupid Tax file, for frantically handing your kid an old Christmas confection shoved in a kitchen drawer because he ate the entire roll of Mentos yesterday and won't get in the car until he gets a mint. A MINT, I TELL YOU.

The parenting magazines, they don't get specific like that.
Maybe I'm just a bitter old hag.

But Ethan asking sweetly for some fifis (fishies: Goldfish crackers), well. That's a made-up word I can get behind.

12 comments:

Christopher said...

Though perhaps fitness magazines are the worst. "Six weeks to bigger biceps!" Yes, it's called lifting weights. Not really a new concept.

What it comes down to is the point you've hit squarely on the head. Most of mass media is mindless chatter of things that don't matter, in the least.

It will always be people who matter... both the ones we love and the ones we should.

Centsational Girl said...

OMG you're cracking me up today, because I can so relate. With my E, it was a bead. A bead ! What kid shoves a bead up his nose ? I had to take him to the doctor's office - suspect bead was never found and I wasn't brave enought to look "there" the next day. I welcome more insight on the magazines - keep em coming. :-)

Sal said...

Oh lady, I hear this. I love my mags, too, but they can get so irritatingly banal. Here's hoping you can just feel superior and laugh at them ...

roysie said...

I read Real Simple only occasionally. More often than not, I just get that "magazine" fix from blogs, which seem much more relevant to me.

stephanie said...

i will totally teach you how to punch someone correctly (unless noah already has) just in case you feel the urge again.

Slamdunk said...

Good rant. I can't remember the last time we subscribed to a magazine.

Jen said...

My kids always think they want mints, until they taste them - then back out they come, all wet and sticky. At least the little kids anyway. :)

Erin said...

Christopher—Ah, repackaged bull crap! I want to scream every time I see a headline with "new" as an adjective for, well, almost anything.

CG—I really, really do like magazines. And I read the ones I do because I find them mostly interesting or inspiring or informative. But coming from within the industry, I can tell you that creativity and fresh material is not always paramount.

Sal—Don't encourage my superiority complex.

Roysie—And that's the thing! There are so many great lifestyle, humor and design bloggers out there, I feel like the print magazine bar needs to kick it up a notch.

Stephanie—You're talking to a girl who once punched through a one-inch solid board. Oh yes, I was kung fu fighting.

Slamdunk—I tend to really like the features in Vanity Fair, but some of their upfront material is just. so. irritating. Society pages? Ugh. "Bright Young Things" invariably featuring privileged white girls who've attended finishing schools and "amazingly" achieve huge success before their quarter life crisis? Gag me.

Erin said...

Jen—It's always a gamble allowing that kid to put any foodstuff in his mouth. But I hear that's the main source of nutrients in young children, so I guess I'll have to keep putting up with the regurgitated chips, chicken, mints, peas...

Heather said...

which is exactly why i don't read magazines. 90% of them is just rubbish that i neither care about nor need to know. That and they're expensive out here.

Dawn said...

What is it with mints?! Heather (my younger sister) paused mid dish washing to investigate her son Nolan's silence (I've learned through her that when a 1 year old gets quiet, it's pretty much *always* because they're doing something you don't want them doing). She turned to find him staring intently into the corner of the room, slouching down over something. "Nolan," she says in her mommy voice. The little tyke turns just enough for Heather to notice he has a mint in his fist.
"No!" She lunges to take the candy and -- I kid you not -- she said his hands became a blur as he attempted to unwrap the mint while simultaneously shoving it into his mouth before she could take it. She also confessed to a wash of emotions that left her terrified, angry (with herself), and quite breathless as her brain rushed through all the horrible scenarios that could have befallen Nolan had she not turned around... Her experience was so much more *real* than anything I usually read sitting in my gyno's office, and she admittedly doesn't read many parenting magazines for some of the reasons you cited.

It seems to me that the "reputable" mags only showcase the shiny, selling the new, whereas the "rag mags" tear down the (already) beat up; the former makes you feel like crap, the latter focuses on how "at least you aren't as crappy as such-and-such." Mayhaps a clever editor with a talent for humorous honesty can one day bring us a different (dare I say, "fiercer"?) magazine.

Also, my only "child" likes to eat hot lunch; I haven't found a magazine that addresses this to my satisfaction but, then again, I don't really want to look too hard.

Lisa@Pickles and Cheese said...

I love my magazines and find them very difficult to throw away. But, I am realizing there is not much of anything "new" in them. They simply recycle the article ideas and even the topics are based on the time of year...the photos too. I am easily influenced by their hype, at least enough to keep buying them. And I save candy canes too. :)

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